A Song, by William Wallace

Where is my Native Land?
   Where the East sparkles?
Where the wide, wooded West
   By the sea darkles?
Where the soft, sunny South,
   Like a bride glowing,
Sees the proud sun in state
   To her couch going?
Whre the great Nor’ winds march
   On their trumps blowing?
      Where is my Native Land?

That is my Native Land
   Where the East sparkles;
Where the wide, wooded West
   By the sea darkles.
South and north! alike
   Ye claim my being:
All races are the same
   To the All-Seeing.
Down with the feudal lie!
   Man is my brother:
God is my Father, and
   Earth is my Mother.
      The World is my Native Land.

——William Ross Wallace in Holden’s Dollar Magazine, 1849.




By the brightness of morn, when the day-spring is blushing,
  And bathed is creation in roseate light;
By the stillness and gloom which all nature is hushing,
  When spread are the wings of the angel of night
    — Allah swears, O Mahomed! he ne’er will forsake thee!

Though thy mortal career may be laden with sorrow,
  Yet think of the glories that wait thee above;
When the ills of to-day shall be changed on the morrow
  For bliss, in the realms of the Lord of thy love.
    — Allah swears, O Mahomed! he ne’er will forsake thee!

Encompassed by danger, an orphan he found thee;
  A wanderer in error thou wast in thy youth,
When he flung (as a mantle) his mercy around thee,
  And guided thy steps to the temple of truth.
    — Allah swears, O Mahomed! he ne’er will forsake thee!

Thou wast needy and poor, but he freely has given:
  Then scorn not the beggar, nor orphan oppress;
But learn from the light that is lent thee from heaven,
  To cherish the outcast, and pity distress.
    — Allah swears, O Mahomed! he will not forsake thee!

——From Heath’s Book of Beauty for 1837.

The Menace of Free Verse


A little article by P. G. Wodehouse, in which he compares Longfellow to Edgar Lee Masters, ends with a prophecy so startlingly prescient that it seems almost divinely inspired.

Not only are rhymes no longer necessary, but editors positively prefer them left out. If Longfellow had been writing today he would have had to revise “The Village Blacksmith” if he wanted to pull in that dollar a line. No editor would print stuff like:

Under the spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands.
The smith a brawny man is he
With large and sinewy hands.

If Longfellow were living in these hyphenated, free and versy days, he would find himself compelled to take his pen in hand and dictate as follows:

In life I was the village smith,
I worked all day
I retained the delicacy of my complexion
I worked in the shade of the chestnut tree
Instead of in the sun
Like Nicholas Blodgett, the expressman.
I was large and strong
I went in for physical culture
And deep breathing
And all those stunts.
I had the biggest biceps in Spoon River.

Who can say where this thing will end? Vers libre is within the reach of all. A sleeping nation has wakened to the realization that there is money to be made out of chopping its prose into bits. Something must be done shortly if the nation is to be saved from this menace. But what? It is no good shooting Edgar Lee Masters, for the mischief has been done, and even making an example of him could not undo it. Probably the only hope lies in the fact that poets never buy other poets’ stuff. When once we have all become poets, the sale of verse will cease or be limited to the few copies which individual poets will buy to give to their friends.